Somebody help out Chicago, Charlotte

Nov 16, 2004 7:06 AM

Two weeks into the NBA season and just Chicago and New Orleans have yet to find the win column.

It’s not so much a surprise that Chicago is winless. The Bulls are still trying to rebuild from the Michael Jordan era and have changed directions several times. They have also had a very light schedule, playing a league low four games during the opening two weeks.

New Orleans lack of success is a bit more surprising. The Hornets were a playoff team last season when residing in the Eastern Conference where they had a dozen straight non-losing seasons dating back to the Charlotte days.

New Orleans has played four of its six games at home. Perhaps the team still has not overcome the surprising firing of ex-coach Paul Silas following last season and the hiring of ex-New Jersey coach Byron Scott. Coach Scott was fired during last season, which followed New Jersey’s two straight trips to the NBA Finals.

Keep and eye on the Hornets and look to see if there is friction between Scott and the players. It could be a long season out West for New Orleans and make for some attractive spot plays against the Hornets in situations that are otherwise favorable for most teams.

Four teams have started the season with just a single loss and, not surprisingly, all are in the West. It’s not a huge shock that Dallas and San Antonio have started 7-1 and 5-1 respectively. Dallas was thought by many to need a period of adjustment with new personnel and the loss of Steve Nash.

But the starts enjoyed by both Utah and Seattle are surprises. The Jazz added Carlos Boozer in the offseason in a controversial signing away from Cleveland. Boozer’s presence has made a difference. Utah is still without a couple of key backcourt players but has been dominating in the early going. All five wins have been by double digits.

Utah’s lone loss came at home to Toronto, an equally surprising team from the East. The Raptors won all three home games before dropping three of four on their West Coast swing.

Seattle has won five of seven games, with four of the wins by 19 points or more. The Sonics gave no hint of their forthcoming early season success when they lost their opening game by 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers!

Here’s a look at three games to be played over this weekend.

Knicks at Mavs (Fri): Dallas has strengthened itself defensively with the acquisition of Erick Dampier and remains a deep and talented team. Dirk Nowitzki improves each season and the injury to Michael Finley has not slowed the production. The Mavs catch New York off a Thursday night game in Houston against ex-coach Jeff van Gundy. Look for Dallas to force the pace and tire the Knicks out in the second half. DALLAS.

Magic at Pacers (Sat): Indiana has overcome injuries and a suspension to Ron Artest to start the season 5-2. The Pacers have shown they are again one of the elite teams in the East. Orlando’s 4-3 start has erased memories of last season’s disaster. The new look Magic are still in the transition from Tracy McGrady to Steve Francis as the focal point of the offense. A now healthy Grant Hill has made significant contributions. Orlando is rested, while Indiana had a physical game Friday night in Detroit. Orlando is a live dog. to get the straight up win. ORLANDO.

Bucks at Kings (Sun): Milwaukee has been a consistently good team in recent seasons but has not been able to make the leap to legitimate contenders. The Bucks have six straight non-losing seasons and have made the playoffs five times in that stretch. Sacramento seems to be on the decline after several years of success and being one of the favorites to win it all. The line will reflect the perception that the Kings are clearly the superior team. However, the gap is much narrower and the teams may be headed in opposite directions. MILWAUKEE.

Last week: 2-1

Season: 4-2